Monday, December 4, 2017

#MyStoryMonday: Pat O'Bryant

Pat O’ Bryant is a local volunteer for the Kentucky Region Steering Committee who has logged many volunteer hours over the years. Pat has helped to train more than 500 volunteers and staff members in areas such as customer service, conflict resolution, and effective team building. 

Pat was made the leadership co-chair of the Volunteer Recruitment and Retention Committee in 1997, and since then her efforts have helped greatly improve donor recruitment. She also serves as a Chairperson for the Region’s largest annual blood drive, Donorama, now in its 40th year, which is held in the end of December in Louisville, Kentucky. We thank you Pat for all that you do!

If you would like to find out more about joining the Red Cross as a volunteer, please visit To find a blood drive near you, visit

Monday, October 30, 2017

#MyStoryMonday: Gray Ladies

During World War I, the American Red Cross had a great influx of volunteers. One service that was established in response was the Hostess and Hospital Service and Recreation corps, which was later famously named the Gray Ladies. The purpose for this new division of volunteers, who were mostly women, was to act as hostesses and provide recreational activities to wounded soldiers.

Although the Gray Ladies were established at the beginning of WWI at Walter Reed Army Hospital, the service quickly spread to both military and civilian hospitals around the country. Some of the Gray Ladies were even sent to serve in U.S. military hospitals overseas.

Gray Lady Jessie Thoroughman reading with Johnny Troxwell
at Hazelwood Sanatorium, circa 1958
The Gray Ladies service was not responsible for any type of medical care, but the volunteers were still required to undergo rigorous training that consisted of courses like hospital organization, psychiatry, ethics and more.

Although the ladies weren’t dressed in vibrant shades, their personalities made up for it. Whether it was sitting down and having a conversation with a serviceman or playing some tunes to patients confined to hospital beds, the Gray Ladies of the American Red Cross made it their mission to keep spirits high and the wounded hopeful.

For more information about the Gray Ladies, click hereIf you would like to find out more about joining the Red Cross as a volunteer, please visit

Monday, October 9, 2017

#MyStoryMonday: Erin Rasinen

Erin Rasinen is a Louisville Area Resource Development volunteer and helps out in many ways with fundraisers. Erin has been involved with the Wrapped in Red Gala, the Louisville Area Chapter's signature fundraising event, to which she devoted more than 100 hours to in 2017 alone. 

She has acted as an auction committee chair member, managed the excel sheets that track the items sold at the auction, and helped take pictures of each item to be posted to the gala's bidding website. It is for these reasons and more that we would like to take the time and say thank you for all that you do!

If you would like to find out more about joining the Red Cross as a volunteer, please visit

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Jeffersontown Elementary Students Raise $1,600 for Hurricane Harvey Relief

Meet Clair, Clementine, Rachel, Shania, and Ciara, 5th graders at Jeffersontown Elementary School. Like many 5th graders, they love to sing, dance, and make art. They also participate in a more unique after-school activity: Organizing fundraisers for disaster relief.

It has been more than four weeks since Hurricane Harvey caused extensive flooding and damage to parts of Texas and Louisiana. More than 1,500 people are still spending the night at Red Cross and partner shelters, with nearly 414,000 overnight stays to date.

The group of girls were inspired to help those affected by the hurricane when they heard stories of people in need in Texas on the news. When they also learned that several of their teachers had family and friends living in Texas, they were determined to find a way to give back.

“My dad might go to Texas to help,” said Shania, who told us her that her father was an engineer who travels as part of his work. “I wanted to be able to help too.”

One morning after Labor Day the group approached their assistant principal, Ms. Jessica, and told her that they wanted to do something to help the people affected by Hurricane Harvey. Ms. Jessica challenged them to come up with their own plan of action.

With the support of their parents and the help of the Jeffersontown Elementary faculty, the girls decided to have a schoolwide fundraiser by having a “dress down week”. Each day of the week had a theme, such as “Crazy Hat Day”, and Jeffersontown Elementary students could donate a dollar to the fundraiser to wear something based on that day’s theme.

The girls spread the word about the fundraiser by word of mouth, and by creating posters to advertise for the dress down days. Their parents went all out buying them supplies, and the group worked on the posters in the school cafeteria and during sleepovers.

By the end of the fundraiser, Clair, Clementine, Rachel, Shania, and Ciara raised over $1,600 to help the people recovering from Hurricane Harvey. They said that while students had only needed to donate a dollar during dress down days, many people chose to donate more.

We were pleased to visit Jeffersontown Elementary and meet with the group, where they presented us with their donation. When asked why they wanted to donate the money to the Red Cross, they said it was because they knew that the Red Cross helped people. The girls were especially excited to find out that their donation would help provide financial assistance to people in Texas, and enable them buy the things they need most.

As of September 27, the Red Cross has authorized more than $142 million in financial assistance to help more than 356,000 Texas households severely affected by Hurricane Harvey.

Clair, Clementine, Rachel, Shania, and Ciara: We thank you for your hard work, your big hearts, and your dedication to helping others!

The American Red Cross continues to provide shelter, food, relief supplies and more to people affected by Hurricane Harvey, as well as those affected by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Red Cross response vehicles and volunteers are fanning out across neighborhoods to distribute nutritious meals and relief supplies such as diapers, bug spray, cleaning supplies, coolers, and comfort kits that contain deodorant, toothbrushes, toothpaste and other hygiene items. Red Cross disaster workers are also providing health services such as replacing lost medications and eyeglasses, emotional support and spiritual care to people affected by these storms.

Click here to learn more about our response, or find out how to volunteer or donate by visiting

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Junior Red Cross: "Our Schools Serve our World"

The American Junior Red Cross was developed as an official organization for young students during World War I as both a means to help with the war effort and also to educate the youth of the nation. The American Junior Red Cross prepared boxes of personal items to send overseas, planted and tended to gardens that aided the America’s food supply and also held fundraisers. In fact, the members of the organization raised over 3 million dollars during WWI alone.

To encourage support from local schools, the Red Cross released a series of posters, including these two from the 1940s. By the time World War II rolled around, membership of the youth organization was pushing 20 million.

Along with service to their country through tangible items, the American Junior Red Cross was known for their educational programs. Disaster relief, public health, and blood donation were some of the many workshops they held.

The American Junior Red Cross has since transitioned into local community clubs and Red Cross school clubs that allow opportunities for leadership development and community service in addition to teaching life-saving skills. 

Learn more about volunteering at

Monday, September 18, 2017

#MyStoryMonday: Lance Mann

Lance Mann joined the Red Cross about a year ago, taking on the role of lead of the Biomedical Committee. Since Lance has joined he has helped implement a more efficient structure and agenda, and assists with any pressing issues involving biomed. 

In addition, Lance has helped volunteer for the Home Fire Campaign and helps lead on the auction committee for the Wrapped in Red Gala, the Kentucky Region's largest fundraising event. Lance has been such a crucial part of the Red Cross Family since joining and we would like to take this time to say thank you!

If you would like to find out more about joining the Red Cross as a volunteer, please visit

Monday, August 28, 2017

#MyStoryMonday: Julie Kirk

Julie Kirk is a Louisville Area Chapter volunteer that helps out as a Blood Services Scheduling Specialist. Usually you are only asked to volunteer about 4 hours out of every month, but Julie has done so much more and has averaged about 10 hours a month since being here. 

Julie doesn’t stop there; she is also Franklin Counties Blood Donor Ambassador and helps as a Disaster Workforce Responder. Thank you, Julie, for your commitment to the Red Cross mission and your dedication to your many positions!

If you would like to find out more about joining the Red Cross as a volunteer, please visit

Sunday, August 20, 2017

#MyStoryMonday: Kenny Settles

Kenny tests a smoke alarm during a Home Fire Campaign install
Kenny Settles is a local volunteer who helps fill many roles at the Louisville Area Chapter. Kenny helps as the ERV Lead for the Louisville area; he even calls up other volunteer drivers to verify availability for events that need people. He also drives to Evansville a few times a week as a Blood Services Transportation specialist. 

Kenny also helps support the special events in Louisville, like the Wrapped in Red Gala and installs smoke alarms in community homes as a Homefire Campaign Volunteer. Thank you so much for all that you do, Kenny!

If you would like to find out more about joining the Red Cross as a volunteer, please visit

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

2017 Eclipse Safety

Millions of people are expected to make travel plans to see the first coast-to-coast solar eclipse visible in this country in 99 years. If you are planning to view the eclipse, please remember to do so safely! 

Looking directly at the sun is unsafe except during the brief total phase of a solar eclipse (“totality”), when the moon entirely blocks the sun’s bright face, which will happen only within the narrow path of totalityThe only safe way to look directly at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun is through special-purpose solar filters, such as “eclipse glasses”  or hand-held solar viewers. Homemade filters or ordinary sunglasses, even very dark ones, are not safe for looking at the sun.

o    Always inspect your solar filter before use; if scratched or damaged, discard it. Read and follow any instructions printed on or packaged with the filter.

o    Always supervise children using solar filters.

o    Stand still and cover your eyes with your eclipse glasses or solar viewer before looking up at the bright sun. After looking at the sun, turn away and remove your filter — do not remove it while looking at the sun.

o    Do not look at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun through an unfiltered camera, telescope, binoculars, or other optical device.

o    Similarly, do not look at the sun through a camera, a telescope, binoculars, or any other optical device while using your eclipse glasses or hand-held solar viewer — the concentrated solar rays will damage the filter and enter your eye(s), causing serious injury.

o    Seek expert advice from an astronomer before using a solar filter with a camera, a telescope, binoculars, or any other optical device. Note that solar filters must be attached to the front of any telescope, binoculars, camera lens, or other optics.

o    If you are within the path of totality, remove your solar filter only when the moon completely covers the sun’s bright face and it suddenly gets quite dark. Experience totality, then, as soon as the bright sun begins to reappear, replace your solar viewer to look at the remaining partial phases.

o    Outside the path of totality, you must always use a safe solar filter to view the sun directly.

o    If you normally wear eyeglasses, keep them on. Put your eclipse glasses on over them, or hold your handheld viewer in front of them.

For more information about the 2017 Eclipse, visit 

If you're traveling to view the eclipse, you can check out some highway safety tips from the Red Cross here.

Monday, August 14, 2017

#MyStoryMonday: Linda Beck

Linda Beck is a member of the Kentucky Region Disaster Casework Team and has been a member of the team since May of 2013. Linda is not only a member but also an instructor and recovery regional program lead for the KRDT. 

Linda started out as a Disaster Action Team responder but moved up to a lead over time. She acts as the Interim Disaster Program Manager for areas like Vermont, Indiana, and Lexington. Linda has even been called to help serve as a Client Caseworker Manager on the national level, and has been called seven times over the past two years to help out nationally. Linda is a woman who has answered the Red Cross mission and has devoted so much more time to it than is asked of her. For that we thank you, Linda!

If you would like to find out more about joining the Red Cross as a volunteer, please visit

Monday, August 7, 2017

#MyStoryMonday: Larry Emery

Larry Emery is a Sheltering Lead for the Red Cross Kentuckiana area, as well as a leader within the organization who has been deployed three times this year alone in support of shelter operations nationally. Larry even helped set up shelters during the Kentucky Derby Festival in case of an emergency.

Larry also works with shelter partners in our area to verify locations, check the status of their supplies, and make sure they are ready in case of an emergency. He is truly a man that goes above and beyond. We will always be grateful to have you as part of the Red Cross, thank you Larry for everything that you do.

If you would like to find out more about joining the Red Cross as a volunteer, please visit

Monday, July 31, 2017

#MyStoryMonday: Delores Oberhausen

Delores Oberhausen is a friendly face who helps out in the fundraising department every Tuesday and Wednesday at the Louisville Area Chapter. Delores is very has many roles throughout the Louisville area. In addition to her work with fundraising, she holds various positions such as Administrative Assistant, Resource Development Volunteer, Louisville Area Special Events Volunteer, Regional Volunteer Services Screener, and a Disaster Workforce Responder.

Delores puts in many hours volunteering in these roles. You will also catch her at many of the big events she helps to plan and coordinate throughout the year, such as the Louisville Area Chapter's largest blood drive, Donorama, which is held every December. She also volunteers as a Blood Ambassador. Her many years of IT experience have proven to be vital to the Red Cross mission, and the Louisville Area Chapter just wouldn’t be the same without her. We would like to take the time and say thank you, Delores!

If you would like to find out more about joining the Red Cross as a volunteer, please visit

Monday, July 24, 2017

#MyStoryMonday: Bud Burson

Since joining the American Red Cross, Bud Burson has been an instrumental member of the Southern Indiana Disaster Action Team as a responder where he has personally touched the lives of over 65 families so far this year alone. Bud also helps out as a Louisville Area Special Event Volunteer and assists with each of the Home Fire Campaigns in the Kentuckiana area.

Bud has attended and helped run and operate some of the American Red Cross First Aid/Lost Child stations in Southern Indiana for Thunder Over Louisville and has recently been accepted into the Lead role for Disaster Cycle Services in Southern Indiana. 

If you would like to find out more about joining the Red Cross as a volunteer, please visit

Monday, July 10, 2017

#MyStoryMonday: Molly Mason

Kentucky native Mollie Mason was no stranger to volunteer work. While in the midst of the Civil War her mother taught her how to knit, and she remained a knitter up until her death. During an interview in 1917 with Elizabeth Hagan of the Ladies Home Journal, Mason claimed, "I've knitted my way through a lot of national crises since [the Civil War]." In attempts to keep soldiers warm with a little comfort from home, Mason joined forces with the Red Cross to knit cozy sweaters, numerous pairs of mittens and more.

In World War I (and still to this day) an important initiative to the Red Cross was knitting because it was something that was relatively easy to pick up and accessible to all ages. When Americans asked how they could help on the war effort on the home front the most common answer was "knit!" Thousands of citizens grabbed their knitting needles and made socks and sweaters to send to troops overseas.

"This was is going to end suddenly like the last one, but in the meantime I'm trying to keep our boys supplied with knitted things," Miss Mason said.

If you would like to find out more about joining the Red Cross as a volunteer, please visit

Monday, July 3, 2017

#MyStoryMonday: Jessica Evans

Being the institutional memory and organizer for the redeveloped Calloway County Community board, Jessica Evans is known as the organizational goddess. 

Jessica has spearheaded volunteer recognition on the community level. She works with Western Kentucky Chapter Executive Director, Evelyn Miller, in organizing new volunteer recruitment activities with Murray State University nonprofit fairs. She has worked with a Public Relations Class at the University to solicit a public relations and marketing plan for the community board and Western Kentucky Chapter. Jessica has also worked with board member John Wright to get two local government proclamations for Red Cross and the Home Fire Campaign program, which received local media attention. Thank you, Jessica!

If you would like to find out more about joining the Red Cross as a volunteer, please visit

Monday, June 26, 2017

#MyStoryMonday: Cindy Thompson

With over 2300 volunteer hours in the last fiscal year, Cindy Thompson is a dynamic part of the Red Cross and the surrounding communities of the Paducah Area. Despite having a full time job, Cindy serves on the Kentucky Region Volunteer Steering Committee and the Paducah Community Board. Cindy is also in Disaster Cycle Services as a Disaster Workforce Management Team member. Cindy is a Disaster Action Team Lead, and a DPS Volunteer Counterpart. Cindy continues to help faithfully guide and support The Paducah Community Board, and the mission of the Red Cross. For her service, we are forever grateful.

If you would like to find out more about joining the Red Cross as a volunteer, please visit

Monday, June 19, 2017

#MyStoryMonday: Debbie Ranier

Debbie Ranier is the poster of continued growth and success at the Eastern Kentucky Chapter. Debbie’s willingness to help shows with every event or any situation she takes on. 

Debbie has supported the Red Cross in many roles with grace and expertise including: Community Volunteer Lead, Board Member, Events Committee Member, Communications Support and Disaster Services. Debbie is a strong advocate for those we serve, donors and volunteers.  Debbie is considered the epitome of a strong working board member and a stellar volunteer. Thank you, Debbie!

If you would like to find out more about joining the Red Cross as a volunteer, please visit

Monday, June 12, 2017

93 Year Old Volunteer Walks in 12th Annual Run for the Red

On Saturday May 13th, the Services to Armed Forces branch located inside Fort Knox hosted a 5k/10k walk/run in honor of their 12th annual Run for The Red. Out of the 900 people who participated, one that stood out was Nebraska native and 3 year Red Cross volunteer, Evalyn Tenopir.

This will be Evalyn’s third 5k since turning 90. Now at the age of 93, with her walker in hand, Evalyn states she has, “always enjoyed walking and being active outdoors.” With her most recent 5k being Run for The Red, she mentioned she completed it alongside her daughter, daughter’s husband, and a few family friends. When asked if she would be walking more 5k walks in the future, she ended with “I didn’t see myself doing a 5k period, so we will see!”

If you would like to find out more about joining the Red Cross as a volunteer, please visit

Monday, June 5, 2017

#MyStoryMonday: Karen Scott and Griff

Karen Scott and her infamous dog, Griff, represent the Red Cross Bluegrass Area Chapter with warm fuzzy hugs and wet noses at their local Veterans Hospital PTSD unit. Griff, a trained PTSD dog, goes above and beyond volunteering his time at the Leestown VA. 

PTSD does not go unnoticed with the Red Cross, especially not with Griff and his uncanny ability to know which patients need extra attention. Not only are soldiers ready to see Griff each week, but also the staff who spoil Griff with many pats and kinds words. Karen states “the visits will never stop,” and she can tell how appreciative veterans are by being polite and thankful for the visits. The Red Cross is grateful for Karen and Griffs weekly PAWSitive visits!

If you would like to find out more about joining the Red Cross as a volunteer, please visit

Saturday, April 29, 2017

National Volunteer Week: Kathie Hunt

Kathie Hunt has represented the American Red Cross in many facets over the last several years and is willing to fill any role needed.

In Disaster Cycle Services, Kathie lends her knowledge and expertise to assist the disaster program in her territory to ensure communities and clients are all served and their disaster needs are taken care of. She currently serves as the McCracken County Shelter Lead, but she is also willing to assist in the sheltering needs of many other counties.

Kathie serves as a Welcome Team volunteer in Paducah, assisting in on-boarding new volunteers and guiding them along the process of finding their niche in the Red Cross. She faithfully hosts new Volunteer Orientation classes every month in the Paducah office.

Kathie also assists in instructing disaster classes, and is a community events specialist. She is always willing to train volunteers and consistently helps out around the office or in the community. She is an exemplary volunteer whose knowledge and dedication to the American Red Cross mission are invaluable to our team.

If you would like to find out more about joining the Red Cross as a volunteer, please visit

Thursday, April 27, 2017

National Volunteer Week: Raleigh Pate and the Gray Ladies

Tuberculosis couldn't stop the Gray Ladies from celebrating a birthday! The Gray Ladies service was a division of the American Red Cross volunteers, made up of mostly women, acting as hostesses and providing recreational services to hospital patients. While the Gray Ladies service started out in Walter Reed Army hospital at the beginning of the First World War, it soon spread to hospitals across the United States, both military and civilian.
Raleigh Pate, right, with J. Grise and Bailey Eades

Raleigh Pate was a Gray Lady who volunteered at Hazelwood Sanatorium, a tuberculosis facility in Louisville, Ky. November 17, 1958 was a special day at Hazelwood because patients J. K. Grise of Lewisburg, Ky. and Bailey Eades of Robards, Ky., who stayed in neighboring beds, shared a birthday! Gestures as small as getting a birthday cupcake can seem monumental to patients stuck in the monotony of a Tuberculosis sanatorium. To the Gray Ladies of the American Red Cross, simply making a patient feel special on their birthday was a day well spent. 

First Capping Ceremony of the Hazelwood Gray Ladies
Although the Gray Ladies provided non-medical care, they underwent a rigorous training process, provided by medical professionals and the Red Cross, which included hospital organization, ethics, psychiatry and occupational therapy. By the 1930s, with increased demand during the Depression, the Gray Lady Service spread to other hospitals around the country, both military and civilian. Their services also extended to blood centers and providing assistance with disaster response. 

Although their numbers decreased, the Gray Ladies continued serving in American hospitals until the mid-1960s. Today, the Red Cross continues providing support to hospitalized U.S. military personnel with dedicated volunteers through Service to the Armed Forces.

For more information about the Gray Ladies, click hereIf you would like to find out more about joining the Red Cross as a volunteer, please visit

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

National Volunteer Week: Judy Cothern

Everyone in Simpson County knows Judy Cothern for her servant’s heart and involvement with a number of organizations throughout South Central Kentucky.

Judy became aware of the American Red Cross when a family member experienced a fire and Red Cross volunteers responded. This got her attention. She decided she wanted to learn more and put the mission of the Red Cross to the test. After her initial training she decided she was ready to respond to see if volunteering for the Red Cross was a fit for her. Unfortunately, the first home fire she responded to was one of her neighbors. While it was heartbreaking, she found it rewarding to have the tools and resources to help during one of life’s darkest moments. Judy has been instrumental in leading Red Cross initiatives in Simpson County and South Central Kentucky ever since.

Judy serves as the Community Volunteer Lead for the Red Cross in Simpson County, conducting volunteer meetings and recruiting volunteers. She is the Disaster Action Team Captain and responds 24/7 to fires, floods and tornadoes. She serves as a liaison between the Red Cross and local Emergency Management. She has opened and operated shelters following floods and an apartment fire.

Judy has taught disaster preparedness to teens and the Pillowcase Project, a preparedness program for children, to third through fifth graders in Simpson County. The children are then encouraged to go home and teach their families. She finds empowering children to know what to do during a disaster incredibly rewarding.

Judy’s services are not only limited to Simpson County. She also serves as a mentor to the Logan County Disaster Action Team, and has assisted with fires, flooding and tornado responses throughout all of South Central Kentucky. She has deployed on several national disasters, not only to help those impacted, but to grow her knowledge and skills to better serve here at home.

In addition to her work with the American Red Cross, Judy is very involved with the American Cancer Society and Relay for Life. She is active in her church, and this past winter, became very involved with Franklin’s Room in the Inn, which housed homeless throughout the coldest months of the year.

Judy has aligned herself with organizations that are there during some of life’s darkest hours – disaster, cancer, homelessness. Her passion and love for others is contagious. She wants people to feel valued and have the best the world has to offer, and her selflessness is an inspiration to anyone she meets.

If you would like to find out more about joining the Red Cross as a volunteer, please visit

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

National Volunteer Week: A Life Well(s) Lived

On a quiet street, in an unassuming house in Lexington, Kentucky there resides an extraordinary man. His name is Wilson Wells, and he has been volunteering with the Red Cross for 65 years and counting. His is the kind of service to mankind that doesn’t get a lot of fanfare (although he has a whole room wallpapered with certificates and accolades), but essentially all of his days on Earth have been dedicated to helping others.

In 1952 in Hinckley, Minnesota Wilson was the pastor of an Episcopal church. He was 28. The Red Cross visited him to ask if anyone in his congregation would like to volunteer for disaster relief. He supplied them with several names; no one bit, and so Wilson stepped up until they were able to fill the gap. Thus began his lifelong service with the ARC.

As one can imagine, Wilson has seen a lot. He has helped with fires, flooding, tornadoes, and hurricanes in Alabama, Arkansas, Texas, West Virginia, Iowa, Illinois, California and Kentucky. He has worked disasters in the Virgin Islands and Guam.

Guam holds some of his most memorable experiences where without access to electricity or showers, the men and women were separated, each bathing in the ocean on separate sides of the island; and, although sometimes all the people had for shelter were tarps supplied by the RC, they would insist on feeding him and his fellow volunteers. Also while there, he was introduced to Ham radio. No phones were in usage, and so these wireless radios were used for all communication purposes. He was inspired to become licensed in Ham, and is very active with it to this day. He is on-air every Wednesday night at the headquarters for the Bluegrass Chapter of the Red Cross, and on Sunday nights, mans a statewide disaster service in Frankfort where his messages are relayed all over the Southeast U.S.

Wilson “day jobs” were also altruistic in nature. After his service in WWII, he gained a degree in psychology from the University of Minnesota and worked at the VA in their psychiatric department. He also attended Seminary School and was the pastor of the aforementioned Episcopal Church. He came to Kentucky to study nursing at Eastern Kentucky University and became Director of Nursing at Appalachian Regional Hospital in West Liberty, Kentucky. He has been active in ROTC, the National Guard and the Reserves. He has volunteered for the Kentucky Foster Care Review Board, and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Wilson is now 93 and going strong. At present, through the Bluegrass Chapter of the Red Cross, in addition to his Ham radio work, Wilson volunteers at the front desk of the Lexington VA Hospital every Friday afternoon, and he helps with their program called No Vet Dies Alone, which provides a human touch when a veteran’s family or friends cannot be there for them at the end of their lives.

To quote Tom Brokaw, who authored a book called The Greatest Generation about men and women from Wilson’s era, “Heroes are people who rise to the occasion and slip away quietly.” While Wilson’s life is too big to be boiled down to one quote, this is precisely what he has been doing for decades.

If you are interested in volunteering for the American Red Cross, visit our website at

Monday, April 24, 2017

National Volunteer Week: Dr. George Pantalos

What is service? Is it being enrolled in the armed forces? Is it fighting fires or helping people flee disasters? Is it helping families get in contact with loved ones overseas?

Service can be a multitude of different acts of kindness: Just ask the American Red Cross and their longtime man of service, Dr. George Pantalos. Dr. Pantalos first became involved with the Red Cross in 1962. Initially serving as a swim and first aid instructor, Dr. Pantalos has served the Red Cross in many roles throughout the years.

Dr. Pantalos in the process of
during a competition
to see who could bring in the most donors.
One of the significant ways Dr. Pantalos contributes to the Red Cross is through blood, plasma, and platelet donations, with his first donation occurring 22 years ago during graduate school. Pantalos attended Ohio State University (OSU) for training in biomedical engineering and cardiovascular physiology. His donations continued when he took a faculty position at the University of Utah and increased in frequency when he moved to Louisville due to the Red Cross’ proximity to his office.

Dr. Pantalos understands the importance of blood in sustaining life and the large impact donations can have on those whose well-being relies on such donations. Dr. Pantalos’ wife and three children also share his dedication to blood and blood product donation. Pantalos enjoys participating in the annual blood donation competition between OSU and their Michigan rivals. Pantalos and his daughter Natalie, a current OSU student, refer to this annual participation as their “daddy daughter donor date.”

The FDA is responsible for ensuring the safety of the blood donations through establishing criteria to decrease the risk of transmitting infectious diseases. While everyone may not be able to donate blood or blood products for a diverse range of reasons, Dr. Pantalos emphasizes the many avenues individuals can take to get involved with the Red Cross and ensures that “one way or another, there is a place for you here.”

Knowing that hundreds of thousands people are positively helped by the Red Cross gives Dr. Pantalos a sense of pride in his beloved organization, and motivates him to continue serving through monthly blood donations and other means. He appreciates everything the Red Cross has to offer and helps to support every aspect of the Red Cross. To answer the question “what is service?” look no further than Dr. Pantalos. He is true model of what service looks like and will continue to be a part of the Red Cross family for as long as he can. Dr. Pantalos’ advice to those who are thinking about becoming a part of the Red Cross team is to work hard, learn a lot, make new friends, and enjoy the people you work with.

If you would like to find out more about joining the Red Cross as a volunteer, please visit

Thursday, March 30, 2017

2017 Wrapped in Red Gala

The 2017 Wrapped in Red Gala celebrated 100 years of Red Cross service in Kentucky and Southern Indiana, and paid special honor to our military personnel. 

Preparations for Wrapped in Red began early Saturday morning as volunteers arrived at the Marriott to begin setting up. Within hours, roses and crystal centerpieces adorned the tables and auction items were arranged for display in the hall. The dining area was transformed from a handful of boxes and chairs into an elegant ballroom, bathed from all angles in red. 

Each of the guests that arrived that night was greeted with volunteers in Red Cross uniforms from decades past. Of note were several volunteers dressed as canteen workers from the 1970s, Gray Ladies, and Red Cross nurses. Past the red carpet and registration, a 1920s bouncer waved guests into the Red Lounge speakeasy, where they could mingle with volunteers in flapper dresses to the tune of a live jazz duo or sample cocktails specially made for Wrapped in Red. 
The dinner program featured a specially prepared three-course meal and guest speakers Heather French Henry, Bill Lamb, and Jerry Abramson. Then the crowd gave our guest performers, Linkin' Bridge, a standing ovation as they sang the “Star-Spangled Banner” and honored our military personnel for their service. Finally, Elizabeth Monarch hosted the thrilling live auction, which included packages ranging from a LMPD SWAT training experience to exciting vacation getaways to Barcelona and Florida.

When the program ended and the lights went down, the Endless Summer Band took the stage and the guests flooded to the dance floor to celebrate 100 years of Red Cross service in style. 

The Wrapped in Red Gala is the signature event of the American Red Cross Louisville Area Chapter. The Gala has become one of Louisville’s premiere philanthropic events serving up a specially prepared, three-course dinner, live entertainment and a live auction featuring exciting trips and one-of-a-kind items. The Gala would not be possible without our sponsors, including Brown-Forman, Anthem Blue Cross & Blue Shield, and Norton Healthcare, or our board members and volunteers, who dedicate their time to make the event a truly spectacular experience.

You can see more photos from this year's Wrapped in Red on our Flickr.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Kentucky Region Board Member, Madeline Abramson, Receives National Red Cross Presidential Award for Excellence

The American Red Cross Kentucky Region is proud to announce that regional board member and volunteer, Madeline Abramson, has been selected to receive the National Red Cross Presidential Award for Excellence.
Madeline has been with the American Red Cross Louisville Area Chapter for nearly 25 years and in that time, has served as a living example of community service, leveraging her relationships to further the mission of the Red Cross by increasing statewide involvement with community partners, corporate leaders, increasing the number of volunteers throughout Kentucky, as well as helping support fundraising efforts.

The Presidential Award for Excellence is given each year to American Red Cross employees and volunteers who demonstrate superior job performance aligning with the organization’s priorities. This award is presented to only 30 Red Cross individuals across the country. She was recognized by Red Cross national CEO Gail McGovern and her Executive Team at a national awards dinner and ceremony held at the Red Cross Square in Washington, DC on Tuesday, March 28, 2017. 
Madeline’s extraordinary work as a chairperson of the statewide Volunteer Steering Committee has pave the way for the Kentucky Region to rebuild the Red Cross volunteer workforce infrastructure. Under her leadership, the steering committee has established groundbreaking programs such as: Volunteer Recruitment and Engagement Task Force Teams in 1 strategic locations throughout the state. This has resulted in the appointment of more than 30 leadership volunteers in key positions which spread throughout all lines of business. To ensure volunteers have a smooth intake experience, Welcome Teams have been formed in 10 locations and these teams paved the way for 1,236 volunteer to join our workforce in FY16. This contrasts with the 417 new volunteers in FY15--- a 280% increase. Madeline also led the charge to forma a Professional Development Training program for Red Cross employees and volunteer in FY16, resulting in an engagement workshop for all regional leadership, and a “Leading Through Change” seminar for the regional Disaster Services Team. She also led the region to a model of success, achieving 129% of the target in volunteer satisfaction.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Mapping of a Disaster

David Hall is a 12-year veteran volunteer with the American Red Cross, and through his particular knowledge of maps and expertise in computer programming, he has worked himself into his self- described dream job - mapping disaster sites as a member of the Red Cross’s Disaster Services Geospatial Technology Unit.

David is affiliated with the Kentucky Region Bluegrass Area Chapter and serves on the Daniel Boone Community Red Cross Board. He has been a “map geek” from a young age, and at his Madison County, Kentucky high school, began taking computer programming classes. He continued to explore mapmaking and computer science at Eastern Kentucky University, and fortuitously some of his classes familiarized him with the software that the Red Cross uses for their mapping. It’s called ArcGIS.

David’s first disaster deployment with the Red Cross was to Hurricane Matthew, which occurred in Fall 2016 and left a wake of destruction from the Caribbean through the Southeast US coastal states. As an example, FEMA is usually first on the scene. They gather a lot of the initial data about where and to what extent the damage is concentrated. They do this partially by heat sensor mapping, to show the epicenters of the damaged areas (in Matthew’s case, multiple epicenters).

When the Red Cross hits the ground, thousands of volunteers working from this initial FEMA data literally go address-to-address to assess the damaged areas. The Red Crossers are evaluating in terms of help needed and/or level of destruction. (In North Carolina alone, 2,174 volunteers were out assessing after Hurricane Matthew!) This information is then fed into a computer to create an Excel spreadsheet. David and team then take the street addresses and geocode them to get the actual coordinates, longitude and latitude, for each address. From this he creates a cleaner spreadsheet with the geocodes, along with more specifics such as Red Cross contacts and phone numbers, specific needs, etc.

With addresses geocoded, the software is able to create a damage assessment map - everything feeds off this map, and from here David begins layering on information; shelter locations, supply inventory locations, specific city transportation maps and much more, can be overlaid onto the original damage assessment map to provide more specifics to assist relief workers in helping victims in a more timely and effectual manner. David confides, before ArcGIS, a lot was left up to guesswork.

David considers mapmaking as much art as science, which speaks to his love for the endeavor. The Red Cross has been utilizing the software since before Hurricane Katrina, but David feels there is plenty of room for improvement, and he is excited about helping to hone ArcGIS’s capabilities to anticipate a disaster’s damage and cut response time down even further.

If you would like to find out more about joining the Red Cross as a volunteer, please visit